Nathan Sterling is one of the good guys: a law enforcement officer on a gritty, crime-ridden mining colony. So why is he trying to push a reformed drug addict into re-entering the world of amber, a highly addictive narcotic? Sasha James is a reformed drug addict, albeit with the help of an mandated implant that helps her resist the allure of amber. The last thing she needs is to re-enter the world of her former lover, drug kingpin Guy Christiansen. Nathan’s sister has become a member of Guy’s inner circle and he needs Sasha to get him entre into the closely-guarded world. He makes Sasha promises he may not be able to keep, ones that will enable her to get a fresh start. But will Sasha be able to stop herself from being caught in amber one again? Especially since Guy is still in love with her and wants her back.
This was a treat to read. The complex character motivations and their resulting actions kept me clicking ‘next page’ long after I should have gone to sleep. I love it when good guys do bad things for good reasons and when bad girls turn out to be better than they ever thought they could be. This is not a ‘nice’ romance, with characters full of honorable intentions committing acts of bravery. It’s, well, it’s complicated. The hero does questionable things. The heroine walks a precarious tightrope. Even the villain had my sympathy a couple of times. And there were lots of nicely-drawn minor characters adding to the problems of the main characters.
The story was taut and engrossing, with many moments where I was thinking “oh crap!” and “what are you going to do now, huh?” Yes, I tend to mentally talk back to the reading device when I’m caught up in amber, er, I mean a good story. I wasn’t quite ready for it to end. Nathan had made a few mealy-mouthed promises to Sasha at the beginning that he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep. I wouldn’t have minded if the delicious tension in the relationship had lasted to the final page, but those problems seemed to disperse without as much as a struggle as I wanted. I know, I know. I’m a glutton for the seemingly impossible happy ever after.
I received an early complimentary copy from the author after many dropped hints, followed by an outright request, in return for an honest review. Cathy Pegau and I both write for Carina Press. My honest reaction is: highly recommended for fans of character-driven science fiction, more adventurous romance readers, and probably folks who are into suspenseful thrillers, too.